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Thread: Tulsa will vote on riverfront plan

  1. #1

    Default Tulsa will vote on riverfront plan

    By the time Tulsa approves this and gets going, OKC will have long surpassed them. Oh well, at least Tulsa is hopefully finally getting it and will pass it. It has tremendous opportunity and would be good for our state overall.

    Tulsa seeks vote on river plan

    July 19, 2007

    TULSA – City leaders gathered at the Arkansas River Wednesday to call for an October election targeting riverfront development.“We’re standing here today and we’re looking at the next opportunity,” said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor, the water rolling by at her back. “There’s a new kind of energy in our community now and we are moving forward at a rapid pace. The time is now.”The $380 million plan involves $111 million in private pledges toward construction of two low-water dams with pedestrian bridges, enhancements to the existing Zink Lake dam, creation of a white-water wave park, two additional pedestrian bridges, public land acquisition for private developers, and other projects along 20 miles of the river.If Tulsa County commissioners set the election, and all three appear to favor it, voters would face accepting a 4/10ths-of-a-cent sales tax over seven years to raise $280 million in public funds. Don Walker, president of Arvest Bank and co-chair of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan Advisory Committee, said that tax rate would equal about 30 cents per household per day.“This is only first base,” he said of the game that lies ahead. “We have a lot of opportunities going forward with this river.”Although this year’s heavy rains have kept the Arkansas flowing high, many Tulsans retain vivid memories of a waterway they could practically walk across less than a year ago. That renewed calls for construction of more dams, although many wildlife preservationists have cited the need to preserve the prairie river environment.“These dams will create water in the river,” said Walker. “I just think this is a reasonable price to pay for what is a crown jewel of Tulsa County.”The George Kaiser Family Foundation pledged matching funds to private donations. Primary sponsors included SemGroup, the H.A. and Mary K. Chapman Charitable trust, Joe and Kathy Craft, the Lobeck Taylor Foundation, Muscogee Creek Nation, Nadel & Gussman LLC, Oneok Inc., QuikTrip, Samson Investment, and the John Steele Zink Foundation. Other supporters included Bank of Oklahoma, Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig, Unit Petroleum, Williams, and Magellan Midstream Partners.Standing among mayors, corporate leaders from state representatives from around the county, Taylor said the proposed plan calls for bold action and the courage to follow through with ideas debated for decades and actively developed over several years through the Indian Nations Council of Governments.“I’ve never seen a riverfront development plan fail,” said County Commissioner Randi Miller, who Walker said had often put her career on the line in support of riverfront development. “All it does is bring development to us.”Although they did not speak at Wednesday afternoon’s press conference, County Commissioners Fred Perry and John Smaligo complimented the plan in a written release.Smaligo said the plan could have a tremendous impact, although he warned that “it’s critical to limit public dollars to infrastructure and to remain consistent with the original intent of the INCOG plan.”Perry said he may vote for the plan “as long as it is narrowly tailored to the river and crafted to ensure the river is developed in an intelligent way.”Last year’s largest proposed $780 million river development project, The Channels, drew active opposition even before it was publicly announced, and subsequently did not make it to a commissioner vote. Although not officially dead, that project is not a part of this proposal.Risha Grant, publisher of Exposure Business Magazine in Tulsa, said she expects many of Tulsa’s young professionals to draw ranks backing this smaller proposal.Ken Levit, executive director of the Kaiser foundation, said Tulsa County is faced with a tremendous opportunity. He said the proposed plan includes better parks, playgrounds, trail improvements, athletic facilities, recreational uses, nicer restrooms, and places of distinction along both sides of the river throughout the corridor. It also adds to the Turkey Mountain wilderness park.“We doddled while Oklahoma City built a river, even though we already had one,” he said, drawing laughter. “Now is the time. Let’s make the river happen.”What’s in the planConcentrating water flow, the Arkansas River Master Plan would allow for these infrastructure improvements:New dams and pedestrian bridges at Sand Springs and Jenks.Reconstruct and raise Zink Dam near 31st Street.Create white-water wave park and narrow the waterway between the Zink and Jenks dams. Fund engineering studies to assess feasibility of a Bixby dam.Create pedestrian bridges at 41st and 61st Streets.Acquire land at commercial development sites.Implement the river plan related to Bentley Park and Memorial Bridge in Bixby.

    At a ceremony at the River West Festival Park, Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor calls for Tulsa County commissioners to approve an October public vote on a $380 million river development project. Private donations already total $111 million if the project is approved. (Photo by Rip Stell)

    Copyright © 2007 The Journal Record All Rights Reserved

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tulsa will vote on riverfront plan

    Admittedly, Tulsa is behind OKC in their plans for beautification, utilization, and expansion of usable public areas... especially when you factor in the area around the Arkansas River. And it will take them a bit to catch up to the advances that some well-intentioned folks that believe in OKC have put into play in OKC over the past decade or two. But, in my opinion, Tulsa already has something that OKC has to try much harder to manufacture, and that is the actual physical beauty of the area. Much of the Tulsa area has a decided advantage in natural physical beauty that OKC lacks, and it is only a matter of time before some well-intentioned folks in Tulsa re-focus the spotlight squarely on their city... but yes, it will take some time.

    In the meantime, let the best city win!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Tulsa will vote on riverfront plan

    I agree that Tulsa is truly a beautiful city. All my family live in OKC, but I've tried to visit Tulsa every now and again. The Arkansas River can look really nice with a little spiffing here and there. I really hope the voters up there pass this. But from what the article says, this is going to be a countywide vote. What makes anyone think that folks in Owasso and BA are going to vote to improve something that isn't even in their cities especially with the V2025 tax already in place?

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